The Fresh Loaf

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Weird question about dough volume

TracyF's picture

Weird question about dough volume

Hi there,

I know this might sound super strange, but I was wondering if it's possible for sourdough during the bulk fermentation to double in volume and still not be properly proofed?

Yesterday I made some sourdough and even when it was almost doubled in volume, it had relatively few small bubbles and almost no large ones showing in the side of the glass container it was in. I handled it and it had very nice elasticity and strong gluten formation, so I set it aside for a few more minutes and then it did develop a few bubbles.

Today when I baked it, the loaf was flat and the crumb was pretty open but didn't look like the truest photos of really good, even open crumb, so it almost seems like it was under-proofed. Is that possible with such a large change in volume?!

The primary difference in my process yesterday was that I used my cousin-in-law's method of mixing with a stand mixer instead of by hand, just to try it out, because I have seen his excellent results just recently.

Still trying to figure this stuff out, appreciate any input you all have!


phaz's picture

Short answer - yes. But, this bulk as it's called is not proofing and any relation between the 2 is pretty irrelevant. X hours of bulk and not getting the expected result - well, hours are also kinda irrelevant. A dough is ready when it's ready and it tells you, clocks won't do that. Outside of that, not enough info to make a determination on anything really. Enjoy! 

pendragon's picture
pendragon (not verified)


zestandfizz's picture

It sounds like you've developed your dough well enough--you're mixing my machine and you say it feels strong. You also say the loaf was flat, and the crumb was open, so I would say you've over-proofed the dough. This would certainly fit with your observation that it has doubled in volume.

I usually like to do a "post-mortem" (yeast and bacteria cultures being the dead things here) after my bake. I take a look at the shape of the loaf, the crust, and then I cut into the bread and make an assessment based on everything I see.

Are you familiar with the signs of over and under-fermentation? An under-fermented loaf will have larger holes (often called fools crumb), but very few small holes. Conversely, an over-fermented loaf will be flat (as you seem to have noted here), and will have lots of small holes. Somewhere in between (lots of small holes, and a decent smattering of large ones) and you're in the right ballpark for well-proofed.

You say the crumb was open--would you say there many large holes or was it dominated by many small holes? A photo would be super.